On 1st January this year, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into force. The AfCFTA will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and will be one of the world’s largest free trade areas. According to the World Bank, the AfCFTA has the potential to lift about 30 million people out of poverty by 2035, increase the continent’s income by 385 billion annually and increase exports within the continent by 81 per cent. It is hoped that the AfCFTA will contribute to a self-sustaining economic recovery in Africa.
Currently, however, trade within Africa continues to be hampered by high import tariffs and bureaucratic hurdles. It will therefore be important that the members – almost all African states – implement the agreement swiftly and consistently. The EU has stated many times that it wants to support and promote the AfCFTA to the best of its ability. So far, the EU‘s trade relations with African states have been regulated within the framework of the EPAs, the Economic Partnership Agreements, whose implementation has lagged behind expectations.
What are the next steps to be taken by the AfCFTA member states to allow the project to gain momentum? Which obstacles have to be overcome? And how will the EU react to the newly created free trade area?
These and other questions were the focus of the discussion to which Andreas Lämmel MP cordially invited in partnership with the German Africa Foundation and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK).
Andreas Lämmel MP, Chairman of the Working Group on Africa of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag & Board Member of the German Africa Foundation
Prof. Dr. Heinz-Walter Große, Chairman of the Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative (SAFRI)
Jean-Bertrand Azapmo, Principal Advisor to the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Department of Trade and Industry, AU Commission
Willie Shumba, Senior Advisor on Customs in the AfCFTA Negotiation Support Unit
Gabor Mehn, Head of Country Cluster & Trade Director Southern Africa, BASF South Africa
Remco Vahl, Senior Expert, Directorate General Trade, EU Commission
Volker Treier, Member of the Executive Board, DIHK
Sabine Odhiambo, Deputy Secretary General, German Africa Foundation